For the winter morning runners.
Winter insomnia. It’s happened to me in varying degrees every year of my adult life, these Januaries and Februaries littered with sleepless nights. Perhaps it’s a merely coincidence that at this time of year, the most trivial of life’s puzzles see fit to mystify me in the middle of the night, or perhaps, as I suspect, this phenomenon is some manifestation of seasonal affect disorder. Either way, starting sometime in January the sleeplessness begins, and by February, the prospect of attempting to sleep fills me with a languid sort of dread.
It started this week, and it happens like this: I’ll finally drift in and out of sleep starting around 2 am, have a few fitful dreams about things that make no sense, and then it will be 3:44 am and that’s very nearly not an unreasonable time to be awake, so I give in, give up, get up.
An abandoned sleep plies me with the gift of an everlasting morning, so this occasional insomnia is no terrible thing.
I make myself a leisurely pot of tea, lounge about, read, and suddenly I don’t feel like reading and drinking tea anymore and it’s still only 4:30 which is as good a time as any for a run and finally, finally, finally — this morning (Tuesday), after several weeks of uninspired slogs with achy knees, finally, running feels normal again.
It’s me and the ice and the streets of Philadelphia and the river path and the wistful whispered wish of wind against my throat. I can tuck the entire run in under cover of darkness, and I revel in this breeze blowing bitterly down the Schuylkill, and I think about the afterward, how once I finish this run, I can take my sweet time stretching and showering and making breakfast before work, and the whole day is fat with potential and stretched out cold before me.
Later on, the sky will be that thin wintered blue and the cars will all be out and I’ll have work and reading and class and interactions with other humans, and some will be the obnoxious ones I envy so much, the confident people who underestimate me, the ones who think they run the world. But here at 4:30 in the morning, it’s me who runs the world, me and a few fellow spandex-clad breath-chasers appreciating the icy inky prelude to a 13*F sunrise, the ones who won the fight against The First Ten Seconds of Waking Up, the ten seconds of that washing, sloshing, headsickness as the pillow pleads desperately with your head not to leave it.
Today, at least, we’re out here. And ice and wind and dark be damned, once we’re out here, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.